Gospel music takes a country twist at Grand Bend’s South Huron Stage

Spirits will soar this summer as the rousing tribute Good Ol’ Country Gospel brings celestial vocals and soulful melodies to the shores of Lake Huron. From soulful ballads to energetic songs of praise, this uplifting musical celebration will leave audiences singing their way out of the South Huron stage at the Huron Country Playhouse, July 20-August 6.

“Filled with humor and heart, Good Ol’ Country Gospel is a fun tribute to the beloved and enduring canon of gospel music,” said Alex Mustakas, Artistic Director of Drayton Entertainment. “Audiences will be uplifted, inspired and amazed by the depth of talent on stage.”

Conceived, directed and choreographed by David Rogers, one of Canada’s most accomplished artists, Good Ol’ Country Gospel features song, dance and a wide variety of instruments that cast members work seamlessly while throughout the show.

The production is notable for featuring some of the same performers who wowed audiences with their incredible musicianship in Fiddler on the Loose, which kicked off Playhouse’s 50th anniversary season earlier this summer.

That includes Jesse Grandmont, who anchored the production with his natural charisma and seemingly effortless musical flourishes. A born artist, he has been playing the violin since the age of three, performing all over the world. Before the theater reopened, he performed for seven months at Expo Dubai.

He is joined again by his sister, Leah Grandmont, an accomplished violinist who has performed across Canada, Germany and Scotland as a member of the National Youth Orchestra of Canada.

Other featured Fiddler in the Loose artists appearing on Good Ol’ Country Gospel include Matt Ballagh, who has toured North America and Ireland with his family band, The Ballaghs; Erik Larson, whose work includes The Music Man and Buddy Holly Story for Drayton Entertainment, the hit musical Come From Away in Toronto and Steven Page’s musical workshop Here’s What It Takes at the Stratford Festival; and Dave Robilliard, who has appeared in numerous productions at the Victoria Playhouse Petrolia and performed with symphonies across North America.

Paul Jerry Schwarz also joins this stellar company. A graduate of the prestigious Eastman School of Music in New York, Schwarz is a popular concert performer and last appeared in The Andrew Brothers at the Victoria Playhouse Petrolia. Kate Suhr is a recording artist and has appeared on stage as Tess in Bloom with 4th Line Theater and in the title role of Mary Poppins with the LOT in Toronto, among other shows. Alex Baerg, singer, guitarist and pianist from London, is the musical director and also stars in the production. He appeared in Drayton Entertainment’s acclaimed production of Godspell at the St. Jacobs Country Playhouse and in numerous productions at the Victoria Playhouse Petrolia.

Set design, lighting and costumes are provided by D2 Entertainment. The creative team also includes stage manager Charles Russell and assistant stage manager Stephanie Bignell. Good Ol’ Country Gospel will take the audience on a lively musical extravaganza that runs the gamut of gospel classics such as “Amazing Grace”, “I’ll Fly Away”, Peace in the Valley, “When The Saints Go Marching In” , and many more, all with a country twist.

Good Ol’ Country Gospel is on stage from July 20 to August 6 at the South Huron Stage of the Huron Country Playhouse in Grand Bend. Tickets range from $32-53 and can be purchased at any Drayton Entertainment box office, by calling the box office at 519-238-6000 or toll-free at 1-855-drayton (372-9866), or online at www.draytonentertainment. com.

Photo: Darlene O’Rourke

About Roy B. Westling

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